If you think your flu vaccination is going to protect you from contracting the “stomach flu,” think again.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say the “stomach flu” is a common misnomer used to describe viral gastroenteritis—a stomach virus not at all caused by the influenza viruses. The seasonal flu virus is a respiratory disease--not a stomach disease.
Viral gastroenteritis is a contagious condition causing vomiting and diarrhea. This virus can be contracted through person-to-person contact, contaminated utensils, drinking glasses, food, and water.
Stomach problems can be related to the flu, especially in children, but is rarely the main cause of the flu. Symptoms are a headaches, abdominal cramps, and a fever that can last from one to ten days depending on the type of virus.
According to howstuffworks.com, several viruses cause viral gastroenteritis: rotavirus and astrovirus cause symptoms in the cooler months (October through April) and the Norovirus is prevalent in institutionalized and group settings.
According to stomachvirus.com, remember to wash your hands twenty seconds after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, wash hands before eating, and disinfect contaminated surfaces before using them to prevent contracting a stomach virus.
If you have viral gastroenteritis, stomachvirus.com says the best way to recover is by getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids and reintroducing foods including toast, bananas, broth, apples and rice. Be certain to avoid caffeine, dairy products and alcoholic beverages until symptoms are gone.